Distance Selling Regulations

The regulations would change the way people purchase things for the better. For online marketing, it gave people the feeling of safety they needed when buying through the Internet.

Every day millions of people perform some sort of transaction online. Whether you’re buying your shopping through the local supermarket or using the ever popular auction sites such as eBay and Amazon. You can literally buy anything and everything through the click of a button.

But what about the risks of fraud? How are we protected when we buy?

Pre-sale Information

Under the regulations you are entitled to receive full information about the product or service that you are purchasing before you make the decision to buy. So if you are an e-commerce site it is a good idea, in order to keep to these rules, to include such information as what the product is, does and what exactly comes with the product or service that you are selling.

Written Confirmation

The consumer has the right to receive these details in writing before the sale is done. Basically to comply with this regulation all you need to do after you have received contact from a potential consumer is provide them with a written confirmation about the potential sale making sure that basic information such as your name, address, details of their right to cancellation, cancellation conditions and after sale process are all included. Be wary if these details are not there then the contract is not binding and therefore you, the seller, are not protected.

Cancellation Period

As standard when selling a product online, you are required to leave the customer with a 7 day cancellation period. This is what is known as the cooling off period and the consumer MUST be aware of it. If not then as mentioned in the previous point the contract is not legally binding and you will be in breach of the regulations.

Payment Card Protection

One of the scariest things about purchasing goods or products online is what happens when you use a payment card. The Consumer Protection Regulations 2000 took action to provide the consumer with guarantee that they can purchase safely and that if any fraudulent activity took place then consumer would be entitled to cancel any payments without prior notice. This regulation covers all types of payment cards and not just credit cards.

What the Regulations don’t apply to

Although the regulations cover a large band of people and consumers, it doesn’t in fact apply to everyone or every situation. If you are doing a business to business sale then you are not covered by these regulations.

Other services and sales that are not covered by these regulations include financial services that are sold at a distance, the sale of land and auctions attended by auctioneers. These other examples are covered by other legislation.

What are the punishments that make these regulations tough on offenders?

Well anyone who is found to be in breach of a Distance Selling Regulation can be sued by the consumer who has suffered as a consequence. So it really is a good idea to comply to avoid a damaged business reputation and the severe financial implications for your company.


The points above are just a basic outline of the regulations that were brought in to protect the consumer from dodgy online dealings and being left out of pocket. Although these regulations were brought in primarily to protect the consumer, there are also parts of the regulations that offer protection to the seller. For example if the goods that have been sold are sealed on delivery and then the consumer opens them this automatically removes the guarantee of a cancellation within the contracted 30 days. The same applies for goods that are specified for the consumer and in most cases a transport service.